20 Best Things to Do in Sturgis, MI

Sturgis, MI
F. D. Richards from Clinton, MI, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Near the border that Michigan shares with Indiana lies an unassuming city with plenty of hidden wonders: the vibrant town of Sturgis.

It’s known as the Electric City, thanks to the Sturgis Dam that powers most of its homes and establishments.

With only around 10,000 residents, the location has a small-town vibe that every visitor will find inviting.

And it also has a small city proper, with the rest of the area being forests, rivers, and prairies typical of this region.

So while there are a couple of manmade attractions, most of the recreational destinations in town are nature-related.

So when planning for an upcoming weekend vacation, take a chance and discover the beauty of this northern getaway.

Here are the 20 best things to do in Sturgis, MI:

Watch the Latest Hit Flick at Strand Theatre

Front view of Strand Theatre
F. D. Richards from Clinton, MI, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you need a break from the outdoor adventures, head to one of the city’s entertainment destinations: Strand Theatre.

This movie house is set downtown, attracting the residents with the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

While the destination is set on an old, historic building, the interiors have been renovated to address the needs of a modern audience.

View of Strand Theater from afar
F. D. Richards from Clinton, MI, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So you can expect comfortable seating, great viewing angles, and engineered acoustics that will elevate your watching experience.

Ther are traditional screens and 3-D ones that create realistic effects popping out of the screen.

Before entering one of the cinemas, visit the concession section for fresh popcorn, refreshing drinks, and other movie staples to munch on.

Trek the Trails of Plumb Lake County Park

The scenic Plumb Lake County Park is located just east of the city proper along Lafayette Road.

It’s one of the latest projects of St. Joseph County Parks, with 126 acres of verdant green space under their management.

Here, you’ll find an array of habitats that make the attraction an ecological hotspot, such as prairies, woodlands, and the vast Lake Stewart.

As you enter, you’ll also find an expansive meadow with tall grass and tree-lined borders.

During spring and summer, this section of the park explodes with yellow wildflowers, akin to SoCal’s super blooms.

Follow the trail on the side, and you’ll end up on an ADA-compliant boardwalk that brings you to the nearby lake.

This body of water is a great spot for shore fishing.

There’s also a kayak launch for those who want to get into the water and explore the lake.

Immerse in History at Sturgis Historical Museum~At the Depot

On what was once an important rail stop now stands Sturgis Historical Museum~At the Depot.

This facility was established to tell the story of the city, its citizens, and its storied past—every notable era and event.

So come check out their exhibits and have fun learning about Sturgis’ history.

There’s a section about Native Americans, considered the area’s first settlers.

Here, you’ll find various artifacts from the tribes and a touch-screen display talking about their cultures and practices.

On one end, there’s a theater dedicated to Sturgis being the “Electric City,” with short films talking about the dam’s construction and purpose over the years.

Don’t forget to stop by the History Tree, a cross-section of a large tree whose rings are connected to various historical events.

Join the Vibrant Sturgis Fest

The bombastic Sturgis Fest has a long history, first starting as a kick-off celebration for the state-wide Michigan Week.

It then turned into Sturgis Dam Days, which honored the hydroelectric dam that brought light and power to the city.

By 2012, the celebration was renamed Sturgis Fest, held on the last week of June at the height of summer.

This latest iteration starts on a Wednesday and goes on to the weekend, with several events happening day and night.

These can include Family Days, eclectic parades with electricity-themed floats, and sports tournaments where local teams compete for the championship.

One of the more anticipated events is the Bike Night, which involves a rally of bikers, live rock music, flowing drinks, and local food trucks.

To cap it all off, the organizers hold a vibrant fireworks display on Sunday night that brightens the night sky.

Stay at Cade Lake County Park & Campground

This area of the US is known for the lakes, so you can expect many lake-side attractions in Sturgis.

Just south of Plumb Lake County Park is Cade Lake County Park & Campground, another beautiful green space.

Unlike the former, this attraction has camping grounds for those who want to stay for a few days out in the wilderness.

There’s are plenty of sites for traditional tents and RVs, all equipped with utility hookups for a convenient stay.

While Lake Cade is a private lake, campers are still allowed to go boating or swimming next to the scenic beach.

If you don’t want to get wet yet, the destination has volleyball and basketball courts and an indoor game room.

The trails are also ideal for those who want to explore and encounter the curious wildlife native to the area.

Catch a Show at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts

The regal Sturges-Young Center for the Arts is the hotspot for performance art in Sturgis.

As a large multipurpose facility, this destination hosts an array of events the whole family will enjoy.

These include live music concerts by local bands, orchestral performances, book readings, and dance recitals.

These are held in the center’s many rooms and sections, including the grand Civic Center, a 969-seat auditorium with beautiful lighting.

Aside from public events, residents and visitors can use the center for private activities, like cocktail dinners and wedding receptions.

There’s also sumptuous food served by an in-house catering crew, providing filling dishes that satisfy every visitor.

Check out their calendar today and book a ticket for an upcoming event!

Ride an ATV at Rouch Off-Road Vehicle Park

Experience the thrill of riding jeeps and trucks at Rouch Off-Road Vehicle Park, located on Sturgis’ northwest border.

This 100-acre, family-owned facility is the premier spot for adventurers visiting the city, with lengthy trails that feature hills, bumps, and curves.

Your coordination and driving skills will definitely be put to the test!

So bring your ATV, 4x4 vehicle, or motocross bike and conquer the hills, mud pits, and dirt tracks!

During winter, the park is open for snowmobiles and other vehicles for snow and ice.

If you want to stay for more than a day, the facility has primitive cabins and camping spots ideal for RVs and trailers.

Head to the Deep Waters of Klinger Lake

On the westernmost edge of Sturgis lies one of the biggest bodies of water in the area, the magnificent Klinger Lake.

Its east side belongs to the city, while the other end is managed by White Pigeon’s local government, making it a recreational hotspot for both communities.

To access the lake, head to Klinger Lake Marina near Camp Fort Hill.

You can go kayaking, canoeing, or boating to the lake’s center, which is teeming with freshwater game.

On the southern end of the lake, you’ll find the scenic Klinger Lake Country Club, which still belongs to Sturgis.

The 18-hole course is considered one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets, with lush fairways and greens that make for an excellent few rounds.

Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, you’ll enjoy swinging your club at this course.

Cruise the Gentle Currents of Fawn River

The waters of Fawn River
Tim Kiser (User:Malepheasant), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The long and meandering Fawn River is another significant water feature in southern Michigan, providing much-needed irrigation and sediment for nearby agricultural lands.

Along the 55-mile path, it winds its way on the eastern side of Sturgis, making many elaborate curves before finally passing the state border to Indiana.

Because of its route, this body of water can sustain lush forests in the area, creating a diverse ecological hotspot.

From riparian woodlands to marshes, there are many habitats to see.

These have launches for kayaks, canoes, and small boats that can navigate the shallower parts of the river.

Fishing is a favorite activity here, as the waters are calm and the surface often runs smooth.

Some species to watch out for include small and largemouth bass and Northern pikes.

Play a Few Rounds at Green Valley Golf & Health Club

Compared to Klinger Lake Country Club, Green Valley Golf & Health Club is located much nearer to Sturgis’ city center.

So you can easily drive to the attraction to play a few rounds of golf.

The facility’s 18-hole course incorporates the best features of southern Michigan into a verdant attraction.

So enjoy magnificent fairways and greens and a challenging layout that amateurs and professionals will find enjoyable.

But if golf is not your thing, the facility has a health club and racquetball courts for you to try.

These are great ways to get active and work up a sweat during your vacation.

Go Swimming at Amigo Park

Amigo Park is more of a campsite than a community gathering place, promising modern amenities and activities for families.

It’s located next to Perrin Lake, another body of water surrounding Sturgis.

For those who like to be in nature during their visit, Amigo Park is ideal since it’s near the city.

It’s like you never left modernity!

There are plenty of sites for both tents and RVs as well as other features for an enjoyable stay.

You’re welcome to take a cooling dip in the swimming beach, take the kids to the playground, or explore the hiking trails surrounding the park.

On one end, you’ll find the Amigo Centre, which offers another set of activities for the whole family.

These include summer programs, survival skill lessons, adult retreats, and adventures into Perrin Lake.

Smell the Flowers at Sauk Indian Trail Prairie Plant Preserve

Along the highway west of Sturgis’ town proper lies a small patch of land that may seem unremarkable: the Sauk Indian Trail Prairie Plant Preserve.

But this roadside forest is actually an important ecological area featuring the highest quality prairie/savanna remnants in Michigan.

Despite the small size, the preserve contains one of the last unplowed oak communities in the region.

So you can expect old oak trees that have been around even before the area was developed for agricultural use.

Aside from these towering specimens, the preserve contains many wildflower species like woodland sunflower, round-headed bush clover, and yellow coneflower.

These bloom during the height of summer, creating a colorful patch of land that will catch the eye of travelers.

So if you have spare time, make a stopover here and take pictures of the pretty blooms.

Let Your Pet Play at Old Depot Dog Park

If you’re bringing your pooch to your Sturgis adventures, make sure that Old Depot Dog Park is part of your itinerary.

This green space is located next to an old rail track, with wide, open spaces spanning a modest 1.85 acres.

Since it’s a leash-free area, you can let your furry friend run around all day and socialize with other dogs.

And you don’t have to worry if your pet is small, as the park is divided into sections for heavy and light dogs.

Each has agility structures like tunnels, ramps, and tire jumps that will test your dog’s coordination skills and speed.

For pet owners, there are plenty of benches where you can stay and keep an eye out for your pet.

Visit the Restaurants along West Chicago Road

West Chicago Road is one of the major highways that pass through the busiest areas of Sturgis.

Because of this, the road is surrounded on either side by commercial and hospitality establishments.

So if you want to sample the fine cuisine of Michigan, this is the best place to find favorite local restaurants.

Corner Cafe is the go-to place for some hearty breakfast dishes with its menu of brewed coffee, pancakes of various flavors, and savory omelets.

The lively Maria’s Mexican Restaurant brings flavors from the Latin countries with its selection of tacos, empanadas, and tortas.

And for those who like sumptuous Midwestern staples like deep-dish pizza, subs, and salads, head to Cottage Inn Pizza Sturgis.

View Sturgis Dam from Covered Bridge Park

While Sturgis Dam is a celebrated structure in the city, it’s not actually located there.

Instead, you’ll find it at Three Rivers, a city 20 minutes away from Sturgis.

So for those who want to see the iconic structure, you have to drive to the nearest public space: Covered Bridge Park.

This attraction is located next to the St. Joseph River, which has been turned into a reservoir thanks to the dam.

With more than 1,000 feet of waterfront, the park offers plenty of views of the river, a historic covered bridge, and the dam itself.

Join a Scrapbooking Class in Moments to Milestones, LLC

The most extensive retail scrapbook business in St. Joseph County, Michigan, is named Moments to Milestones, LLC, and is situated in the center of Sturgis, Michigan.

They are a family-run company that works to assist you in transforming your photographs and memories into enduring albums that will allow you to recall the special occasions you cherish.

They provide lessons for everyone, from the novice card maker to the expert card maker.

While cutting in one of their cozy and expansive crop rooms, you may enjoy your own 6-foot table.

The elevator is provided for customer use, and their crop rooms are on the second story.

Come along to one of their entertaining scrapbooking classes.

Pay a Visit to Black Gold Farms

Black Gold Farms began as a modest 10-acre potato farm in North Dakota's Red River Valley over 80 years ago and has since grown into a multinational enterprise with farmland and packing houses all over the country.

When the family started raising registered Angus cattle in 1965, they gave the animals the moniker Black Gold.

Black Gold Farms is a committed business that excavates the dark soil to grow the food that is placed on customers' tables.

They deliver top-tier, high-quality agricultural production and operation through a network of qualified personnel that cultivate good, mutually beneficial long-term relations with suppliers and consumers.

They believe in constantly going over and above, whether providing healthy food, contributing to the community, or preserving the environment and that it's not just about the quality of every potato.

Spend a Leisurely Day at Klinger Lake Country Club

The gorgeous 18-hole private golf course, Clubhouse, and dining options at Klinger Lake Country Club all provide you with first-rate services and an exhilarating adventure.

The Upper Level and Lower Levels make up the Clubhouse.

The Grill area, bar, and men's and women's locker facilities are located on the Lower Level.

At the same time, elegant dining is served on the Upper Level in a secluded setting overlooking gorgeous Klinger Lake and the well-kept golf course.

Their pool has a bathhouse, slides, lanes for swimming practice, and a small area for kids.

The Pro Shop is a comprehensive store with a great selection of clothing, golf equipment, supplies, and presents.

Their menu features both conventional and unique cuisine, and their skilled staff will strive to tailor any meal to your preferences.

Regional artist collective The Open Door Gallery is well positioned in the heart of the central commercial sector.

Local artists have a shop space inside the store.

Their creations include framed artwork in various media and jewelry, ceramics, metal, wood, and other fine artisanal products.

Participate in art walks, workshops, student and public exhibitions, solo exhibitions, bus excursions to nearby museums, and artistic festivals.

Open Door Gallery is a must-visit location if you enjoy art or want to fill your vacation with entertainment and the arts.

Avail the Lunch Deals at Applebee's Grill + Bar

Since 1980, Applebee's Grill + Bar has been offering delicious meals and warm smiles to local communities throughout the globe.

Wholesome American fare is served in a relaxed atmosphere at the complete-service chain restaurant Applebee's Grill + Bar.

Applebee's provides dining selections you'll enjoy, whether you're seeking inexpensive lunch deals or need a wonderful evening meal with family and friends.

Choose from their extensive menu of drinks, beers, and cocktails to satisfy your thirst.

If you're in a rush, you may use their To Go service to request takeout and pick up your meals without getting out of your car.

Make the Sturgis Applebee's restaurant and bar your local hangout.

Final Thoughts

The quiet city of Sturgis is filled with attractions that only the most curious visitors will stop to see.

If you’re one of these inquisitive travelers, you’d be rewarded with scenic county parks, entertainment venues, and nature-related destinations.

Use this guide when planning your itinerary so you won’t miss the top spots!

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